María Cadilla

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María Cadilla Colón de Martínez
María Cadilla de Martínez.jpg
Dr. Maria Cadilla Colón de Martínez
Born December 21, 1884
Arecibo, Puerto Rico
Died August 23, 1951(1951-08-23) (aged 66)
Arecibo, Puerto Rico
Nationality Puerto Rican
Occupation Writer, educator and women's rights activist
Spouse(s) Julio Tomás Martínez
Cadilla was one of the first women in Puerto Rico to earn a doctoral degree.

Dr. María Cadilla Colón de Martínez[note 1] (December 21, 1884 – August 23, 1951) was a writer, educator, women's rights activist and one of the first women in Puerto Rico to earn a doctoral degree.

Early years[edit]

Cadilla lived with her parents in the northwestern town of Arecibo, Puerto Rico where she was born. She was the daughter of Armando Cadilla Hernández and Catalina Colón Nieves. There she received her primary and secondary education. As a child she became interested in writing stories which she shared with her classmates. In 1902, she graduated from high school and enrolled in the University of Puerto Rico.

In 1906, Cadilla earned her bachelor's degree in Arts and Education. She taught school in some of the towns surrounding the San Juan metropolitan area. After a short period of time, Cadilla went to the United States where she earned her teachers degree. She attended the Academy of Francisco Oller and took classes in plastic arts, after she returned to the island. The Atheneum of Puerto Rico awarded her a prize for one of her works in 1914. Cadilla earned her master's degree from the University of Puerto Rico . She went to Spain where she attended the Central University of Madrid. Among her professors were the Spanish writer Américo Castro and poet Dámaso Alonso. She earned her Doctorates Degree in 1933 with the thesis "La Poesia Popular de Puerto Rico" (The Popular Poetry of Puerto Rico).[1]


When Cadilla returned to Puerto Rico, she was hired by her Alma Mater where she taught history and literature. She was also named principal of a local school in her hometown which required that she often travel to Arecibo. Cadilla dedicated many hours of her spare time investigating Puerto Rico's folklore.[1]

Written works[edit]

The following are some of Cadilla's written works:

  • Cuentos a Lilliam (1925)
  • Cazadera en el Alba (1933)
  • La Poesia Popular de Puerto Rico (1933) (The Popular Poetry of Puerto Rico)
  • La Campesina de Puerto Rico (1937) (The farmwomen of Puerto Rico)
  • Costumbres y tradiciones de mi tierra (1938) (Customs and traditions of my land)
  • Cuentos y Juegos infantiles de Puerto Rico (1940) (Children's Stories and games from Puerto Rico)
  • Alturas Paralelas (1941)
  • Hitos de la Raza (1945), This book won an award from the Puerto Rican Institute of Culture.
  • Rememorando el Pasado Historico (1946)

Women rights activist[edit]

Cadilla was also a women's rights activist. She belonged to the Civic League of Puerto Rico and the Association of Women Voters. As a member of these organizations, she fought for the women's right to vote.[1]

Cadilla was a member of the Academy of History of Puerto Rico and of the Dominican Republic; the folklore societies of Mexico and Uruguay and of the Academy of History of France. She received awards and recognitions from Puerto Rico, Argentina, the United States and India. Cadilla died on August 23, 1951 in her hometown Arecibo.[1]


Arecibo honored her memory by naming a school and an avenue after her. Ohio State University Library dedicated December 21, 2002 to Maria Cadilla in its Universal Human Rights Month.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ This name uses Spanish marriage naming customs; the first is the maiden family name "Cadilla" and the second or matrimonial family name is Colón".


Further reading[edit]

  • Magali Roy-Féquière, Juan Flores, Emilio Pantojas-Garcia (2004) Women, Creole Identity, and Intellectual Life in Early Twentieth-Century Puerto Rico, Temple University Press. ISBN 1-59213-231-6, ISBN 978-1-59213-231-7